Good News Sunday: Libertyville Ace Hardware manager Paul LaRoche honored for 50 years of service

Good News Sunday: Libertyville Ace Hardware manager Paul LaRoche honored for 50 years of service

  • Paul LaRoche stands before a wall of memorabilia he has collected over his 50-year employment at Libertyville Ace Hardware.

      Paul LaRoche stands before a wall of memorabilia he has collected over his 50-year employment at Libertyville Ace Hardware. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/23/2022 7:57 AM

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories published recently by the Daily Herald:

For 50 years, the Libertyville Ace Hardware store has been the place for Paul LaRoche, who was honored Jan. 14 for the rare milestone.

 

In fact, it was 50 years ago to the day the then-17-year-old high school senior reported to that very store on Peterson Road just west of Milwaukee Avenue.

LaRoche worked part time every afternoon starting at $1.40 an hour and literally never left, making a career as the local "helpful hardware man." In the process, he became a community institution and caretaker of the local source for household needs, advice and camaraderie.

"Helping people is my whole thing. It's not a challenge. It's fun, it really is," he told family, friends, colleagues, longtime customers and well-wishers.

LaRoche was awarded the Estwing Golden Hammer Award, a hardware industry recognition presented to those who reach 50 years of service, a rare occurrence.

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"There isn't a day that goes by where a customer isn't asking about Paul or looking for him to ask him a question," said Brenda Waring, his assistant manager for 36 years. "He truly has made an impact in my life and the in the lives of so many, many people who have walked through our doors."

For the full story, click here.

Animal shelters get funding boost from #BettyWhiteChallenge

Jan Bierman, founder of The Buddy Foundation in Arlington Heights, gets a kiss Tuesday from Tucker, a dog they saved from a kill shelter in Franklin County about three weeks ago. Local shelters have seen an influx of donations this week as #BettyWhiteChallenge trended online on the late animal lover's birthday Monday.
  Jan Bierman, founder of The Buddy Foundation in Arlington Heights, gets a kiss Tuesday from Tucker, a dog they saved from a kill shelter in Franklin County about three weeks ago. Local shelters have seen an influx of donations this week as #BettyWhiteChallenge trended online on the late animal lover's birthday Monday. - Rick West | Staff Photographer

A lifelong lover of animals, Betty White is still making an impact, even after her death on Dec. 31.

The #BettyWhiteChallenge, an online campaign widely shared on Twitter and Facebook in recent days, urged people to donate $5 to a local animal rescue or shelter in honor of White's 100th birthday, which she would have celebrated Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Local shelters said they're seeing the power of her reach and love for pets.

By Tuesday afternoon, Animal House Shelter received more than $21,000 in donations because of the challenge.

"It's amazing," said Tabatha Browy of the Huntley-based rescue. "We're just overwhelmed by everybody's generosity."

On Monday, The Buddy Foundation in Arlington Heights received more than $2,000 in walk-in donations. The group also saw more than $4,200 pledged to its Facebook fundraiser. In Downers Grove, the West Suburban Humane Society has received nearly $18,000 in donations in White's name since her death.

For the full story, click here.

Girl Scouts wrap gifts for family of injured Bensenville officer

Fifth graders in Troop 55503 and eighth graders in Troop 55191 worked together to wrap gifts for the family of Bensenville Police Officer Steven Kotlewski, who was shot in the line of duty Nov. 6. Their leaders include Gina Blackhall at farthest left, Denise Godola next to her in a Santa hat, Kristen Hatfield in the back row, far right.
Fifth graders in Troop 55503 and eighth graders in Troop 55191 worked together to wrap gifts for the family of Bensenville Police Officer Steven Kotlewski, who was shot in the line of duty Nov. 6. Their leaders include Gina Blackhall at farthest left, Denise Godola next to her in a Santa hat, Kristen Hatfield in the back row, far right. - Courtesy of Kristen Hatfield

The same day that Officer Steven Kotlewski came back to his home in Roselle, with a parade of well-wishers cheering him on, a small army of elves worked diligently to wrap all of the presents collected for the family.

Kotlewski is the Bensenville police officer who was shot nine times in the line of duty while responding to a domestic disturbance on Nov. 6. After spending one month in the hospital and undergoing 50 hours of surgery, Kotlewski returned home Dec. 18.

He was accompanied by representatives from at least 43 police departments and a delegation from the Polish American Police Association. However, another group invited to join the parade was too busy: local Girl Scouts.

Kotlewski, his wife Crystal and their three children, ages 8, 4 and 1, already had received meals organized by local Girl Scouts, but one troop leader in Itasca decided to take it a step further.

"At first I was thinking that my girls could help the family by wrapping presents," says Kristen Hatfield, leader of fifth grade Troop 55503, "but then I thought we could do more.

Under the guidance of leaders, troops from Addison, Bensenville, Elmhurst, Itasca, Lombard, Roselle and Wood Dale joined forces to fulfill the family's Amazon wishlist and wrap donated Christmas gifts for the family.

The Girl Scout leaders themselves delivered the gifts to the family just days before Christmas. The packages filled Hatfield's minivan, with all of its seats turned down.

For the full story, click here.

Nature columnist speaks out in support of maligned starlings

The starling's star-like spots are thought to have inspired its name.
The starling's star-like spots are thought to have inspired its name. - Courtesy of Peter Schwarz

In Wednesday's Neighbor section, nature columnist Mark Spreyer, executive director of the Stillman Nature Center in Barrington, revealed his admiration for a bird that's not native to our area -- the starling.

What is the case against starlings? Critics claim they take over nesting cavities and aggressively defend them against native species such as the bluebird. This is true, to a point. However, in a study, native species, such as the house wren or tree swallow, were shown to be much more active competitors.

Spreyer, an avid birder, says starlings are a resourceful and versatile species that has adapted well to urban and suburban settings. They glean grubs from lawns and farms and scavenge food from restaurant parking lots.

"I have gone on urban bird walks where 'expert' leaders label starlings and house sparrows as 'trash' birds," Spreyer says. "This is a mistake. Most of us live in an urban or suburban landscape; these are our birds."

For the full story, click here.

• Good News Sunday will run each weekend. Please visit dailyherald.com/newsletters to sign up for our Good News Sunday newsletter.

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